Consultants are known for inventing new words and attempting to turn everyday words into revenue-generating service offerings. In many cases, these service offerings are what give consultants a bad name in the industry. How many times have you heard, “The consultants came in and told us what we already knew”? Thank you, Captain Obvious! Below are the most notorious offenders:

1. Value analytics

How many times have we heard a consulting firm or software vendor come in and say, “Let us develop a value proposition for you”? The consultants come back with a list of generic, lofty savings that merely state the obvious and serve the consultants’ best interest. Management already knows whether a project is a good idea or not. A value proposition rarely changes anyone’s mind. Paying an outside firm to develop a value proposition with nebulous numbers and statistics is useless.

2. Complexity reduction

A large strategy consulting firm coined this phrase. The concept is to identify cost reduction or revenue growth opportunities through simplification. Conceptually, it’s a good idea. The only problem is that the consultants’ process for identifying complexity reduction opportunities is overly complex and time consuming. The consultants spend months creating large binders full of detailed, complexity-reducing analyses based on time and motion studies. Statistics rarely reveal if a business process should be eliminated. Ninety percent of the time, management intuition dictates where simplification can occur.

3. Performance management

Performance management is the most overused term in consulting and software sales in the past 10 years. It has become a catch-all consulting term describing anything from budgeting and dashboards to data warehousing and HR performance reviews. Insert the word enterprise or corporate in front and it becomes a software package. Every consultant and software vendor provides performance management offerings to some degree. Performance management is really all about making sure people achieve their goals. In other words, do their jobs. Do you need a consultant to help you make sure people do their jobs?

4. Anything that starts with “enterprise”

Inserting the word enterprise in front of anything really means that the consultant will do it all for the entire company. That’s to say, there are no limits on what you can spend on the service provided by the consultants. One of the larger consulting firms has more than 100 service offerings with the word enterprise in it. My favorite is “Enterprise Water Strategy.” Seriously. Google it.

5. Big data

This is a relatively new one, and all the big software and consulting firms have a solution for big data. Enterprise big data is even more important. Big data is quickly becoming an overused term for extracting information from large amounts of data. A select few software companies are really addressing the challenges, but, everyone is jumping on the bandwagon.

6. Employee engagement

Another nice consulting term for making sure employees do their jobs with a happy heart is employee engagement. Consulting firms offer employee engagement services to tell management the obvious. Employees want more recognition or money, fewer late nights, and more meaningful work. Many large organizations staff Employee Engagement departments filled with people who were not happy with their previous jobs, which required them to do actual work. The Employee Engagement function spends most of its time sweeping up behind bad bosses. Here’s an idea: bad bosses should either be fired or removed from a supervisory role unless the company is really not concerned with employee satisfaction. Also, let’s not forget, there are some jobs that are just unfulfilling and no amount of employee engagement will change the nature of the job.

7. Anything ending in “transformation”

Large consulting firms and software vendors offer business transformation services promising to take an organization to places beyond their wildest dreams. How can a software product transform a business? Having a consulting firm spend months or years analyzing market data and formulating transformation options rarely overrides the executive team’s intuition. Moreover, waiting for the results of a lengthy, statistical market analysis is contradictory to transformation. Competitors are innovating based on intuition and industry experience and are transforming more quickly.

Beware of Captain Obvious, and if you need outside assistance, find consultants who will provide quick answers and rapidly move your company through implementation. Trenegy is an implementation-focused consulting firm. Learn more about our philosophy here.

*Graphic design by Nathan Stillie and Joshua Kemble. Get your Captain Obvious t-shirt here.

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